Just like people of all ages can learn, so is it that autistic people of all ages can learn. It is an utterly sad state of affairs that this even needs to be said, but unfortunately, it needs to be said. Too often I see autistic children being babysat rather than being taught at school. When I ask about academic curriculum being used, I am told, “Oh, he has autism” as if this is an answer to my question.
Accommodations are something provided by law to people with disabilities. It is easy for people to understand physical accommodations such as wheelchairs and curb cuts. It is much more difficult for people to understand accommodations when it involves sensory and processing differences such as those common to autistic people.
I think in colors. My thinking colors have sound and movement. When I hear spoken words my neurology automatically goes for the match – a match for the words I hear to a familiar concrete picture of something in the world outside my skin or to an internal picture I have stored in my memory..
The “hidden curriculum” refers to the set of rules or guidelines that are often not directly taught but are assumed to be known. Most people automatically pick up this hidden information; their brains work that way. For those of us with autistic brains, this information is truly hidden; we do not automatically pick it up. Hence, the term, “hidden curriculum.”
Many autistic students, who have difficulty transitioning from one activity to another, benefit from using a visual schedule in the same interactive way for each transition. Visual schedules provide the means to implement the same transition routine each time the activity changes. Many teachers simply say, “Check your schedule” to signal when it is time for one activity to end and another to begin. Those words serve to initiate the transition routine which the student has learned to complete once initiated without further prompting.